Home > Life Is Messy > Political surveys that make you say “Say what?”

Political surveys that make you say “Say what?”


Since this is my blog, and since I like to bring up everyday life problems and examine them from my jaundiced viewpoint, and because I honor the force and beauty of words, I feel justified in writing about what some might consider {gasp} quasi-political.

A couple of weeks ago, I took a phone call from an unknown number that has repeatedly called, deciding it was time to tell them to put me on their do-not-call list. They just weren’t taking the hint, probably a robocall. It turned out to be another survey. I agreed to take the survey if he unlisted my number, and if the survey was less than 10 minutes. He agreed (we’ll see about the phone number).

I didn’t think fast enough to start taking notes, but after a couple of questions, and the way they were asked, I began asking him to re-read the questions more slowly. Here are a couple of the very carefully controlled questions as I could remember them, the voice inflections, and my comments.

Are you registered to vote in Nevada?

Are you registered as Republican, Democrat or Independent?
None of the above.
That’s not a choice, ma’am. You have to pick one.
OK, I’m unaffiliated.
Your choices are Republican, Democrat, Independent, or Refuse To Answer.
I’m not refusing to answer. I’m unaffiliated because I do not agree with the total platforms of any of those parties, and there are a lot of us out here who think as I do.
Then I’ll click Refuse To Answer.
Do what you have to, but it’s inaccurate which makes your survey useless.

Do you agree with the opposition to legislation effecting gun control?
Could you repeat that?
{repeated with the same emphasis)
Could you repeat that one more time, slowly and clearly?
(now it was obvious what I was going for} Do you agree with the opposition to legislation effecting gun control?
No, I do not oppose all legislation effecting gun control. If you were interested, I’d tell you why.

Are you in favor of new increased taxes that would be directed toward education only?
Could you repeat that please?
Are you in favor of new increased taxes that would be directed toward education only?
Did you say NEW taxes?
Yes, ma’am, new taxes.
We do not want a state income tax, so I am forced to say No. However, I would be in favor to an increase in the local Education tax, itself, with oversight. But I guess that’s not a choice. There are simply too many cooks in the education kitchen, and this survey lacks clarity.


That’s a small sampling of the way these surveys can be skewed in their preferred direction. Most of us who take the surveys do it to see what is trending in politics. We are always in a hurry to get back to whatever we were doing and we hear what we think we hear – often what we personally prefer to hear. This particular survey employee was very well-trained, and well, bluntly, it pissed me off! There was no sense in embarrassing him, telling him he should be ashamed to participate in such garbage, but that’s just shooting the messenger. Whether he agrees with the survey writers or not, he probably just needs the money.

I haven’t taken many surveys lately; I overdosed on surveys during the last presidential election (Nevada was considered a swing state). But I never heard such carefully crafted questions, and I fear that surveys will become useless if this has become the norm. Worse, it may actually help to determine legislation. It’s just another attempt to justify each side’s battle tactics. Where does it end? What happened to negotiate and cooperate? What happened to America?

Categories: Life Is Messy
  1. July 16, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    Very crafty. It’s hard to answer these types of questions with a simple yes or no. I love the tax questions. Taxes can mean anything from federal to state to sales tax to tax on cigarettes. I think most people are for increased funding for education, but where does that money go? How is it distributed? Will the money fund teachers’ salaries, or will it be used to completely overhaul the math program every year, wasting money and confusing students, teachers, and parents? Who oversees the increased funding? And exactly how much tax are they talking about? I think I would have just hung up the phone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 16, 2014 at 8:39 PM

      I almost did, Tricia, but once my Irish is up … well suffice to say the call took longer than 10 minutes!


  2. July 23, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    Wow, talk about skew the survey to get the answers you want! I refuse to complete political surveys, but we tend not to get too many in the UK, they can tell our apathy by our refusal to vote 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 23, 2014 at 1:19 PM

      Same in the US with apathy. The difference is in the US, they cry about it, but that doesn’t stop them, it aids them. Politics are big business. Big business is corporations, and that includes the major parties. Throw enough money around and you get what you want. The little guy only has his vote. Thanks for your comment!


  3. July 23, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    My take away? You are very patient! Sounds like the purpose of the survey was to get the answers they were looking for? Especially since there wasn’t an alternative when the answers didn’t fit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 23, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      Pat, Thanks for your comments. That’s what angered me about the call and kept me on way past the 10 minutes. It’s so important to actively listen, and ask questions so your opinion isn’t used in a way you didn’t mean it. Wanted them to know they weren’t getting away with it! Patience had nothing to do with it, LOL! It is definitely NOT one of my few virtues.


  4. July 23, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    I stopped taking time to contribute to surveys while in college. I discovered that they are biased. Since the results are unlikely to be an accurate reflection, why bother?

    Rachel recently posted 16 Habits of Highly Unproductive People

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 23, 2014 at 6:17 PM

      Thanks for your comment, Rachel. I hear you. It is very frustrating.


  5. July 23, 2014 at 6:58 PM

    LOL — I just had one of these surveys that were poorly worded last week. I completed the survey so the poor college girl would be compensated for the survey, but she notated every question for me as to how the statement was not accurate for the suggested responses. At the end, when she need to validate the demographics — I had to ask her how does a child that is 1/2 Caucasian and 1/2 Hispanic declare a race and in her survey — “other” was not an option. I truly felt sorry for the girl, but we closed the call laughing at the inadequacies of the survey authors and the boat loads of money expended to generate such worthless pieces of crap.

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 25, 2014 at 5:53 PM

      Amen. Useless, except, I guess, for the salaries they create.


  6. July 24, 2014 at 5:55 AM

    This made me giggle. I loved your responses! I am the mother to 5 biracial children and your first answer reminded me of the time I was enrolling my oldest (now 21) in Kindergarten. They had to know race, and even if it says “mark one” I ALWAYS mark 2. (These days things seem to have changed and more than one checkbox is generally allowed.) Well after I filled out the paper and they were going through it, they said “you have to choose black or white.” I told them no, I simply would not. They said “you have to.” I said so you want me to LIE? Because if I say he is black then I am saying I don’t count and if I say he is white then I am saying his dad doesn’t count and most people would say that calling him white is lying anyway because of Jim Crow “one-drop” rules. haha They just looked at me puzzled and then said “well you can’t choose more than one.” So I ended it with “well choose whichever one is more politically beneficial to your school district then, but I will not.” lol They did not ask me that again with the next child that I marked both on, even though it said “choose one.” Thankfully, when I enrolled my now-7-year-old it allowed me to mark both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 25, 2014 at 5:51 PM

      Moral of our stories: some people think they are much smarter than the rest of us, who obviously much simply fit into ‘one box!’ Thank you for your story.


  7. July 24, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    Very interesting. And you are right. The words are chosen carefully so they can get the results they want. And of course, the politicians made sure that THEY couldn’t be put on the do not call list. Politics has been about power for a long time, but it seems to be getting worse. Thanks for your insights.

    All the best,

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 25, 2014 at 5:56 PM

      Never thought about who was being stopped from calling me! Then again, I’m won’t be able to change what they do, and they are so irritating. Thanks. Now I feel even better about doing it.


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